The United States on Monday dropped Vietnam from its list of nations that severely violate religious freedom ahead of a visit by President George W. Bush, citing improvement in its tolerance for religious expression.Victory Is Victorious!!!
The State Department also said it added Uzbekistan to the list and blamed its harsh treatment of observant Muslims, many of whom are harassed, detained and accused of extremism, as well as its repression and abuse of Christians.
The State Department said the decision to remove Vietnam was not tied to Bush's visit to Hanoi for a regional summit this week nor to Vietnam's decision to deport a U.S. citizen convicted of plotting against the communist-run government.
"Vietnam has made significant improvements toward advancing religious freedom," John Hanford, the U.S. ambassador at large for religious freedom, told reporters, saying it had made strides since first being placed on the list in 2004.
Others nations on the list this year were China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, all of whom were similarly criticized last year.
Rep. Tom Lantos, a California Democrat likely to chair the House International Relations Committee in the new Congress, said he supported adding Uzbekistan to the list but regretted Washington had not made more progress promoting religious freedom since Congress mandated the annual list in 1998.
[ cf U.S. drops Vietnam from religious intolerance list ( emphasis mine ) ]
All Hail Great Leader!!! For He KNOWS how to keep on winning that Vietnam Thingie Pooh!!!